Omo Biosphere Reserve

Location; where is it?

The Omo Biosphere Reserve is located in Ijebu, Southern Nigeria, roughly 135km north-east of Lagos with an elevation between 15m and 150m above sea level. Established in 1977, roughly 6,000 people live within the biosphere reserve boundaries which cover a total area of 130,600 hectares. The establishment of Omo Sawmill Industry and the introduction of forest plantation projects rapidly expanded the human population in and around the area. Nevertheless, the communities are well dispersed, either in small camps or villages.

Environment & ecosystem; what makes it rich in biodiversity?

Landscape of the Omo Biosphere Reserve.

Omo is home to tropical humid forests, including dry evergreen mixed deciduous forests in the north and wet evergreen forests in the south. However, plantations (Gmelina arborea, Pinus caribaea, Cola sp. and Theobroma cacao species), residential areas and agricultural land containing agroecosystems with cash crops and arables are also present. The main plant species in the Omo are Diospyros spp., Dracaena manni, Khaya ivorensis and Cordia millenii. 42 mammals are found in the Omo Biosphere Reserve, 15 reptiles and 3 other species; avian, wildlife and fish. Animal species include the grasscutter, pangolins, tree hydrax, boars and the elephant. Around 80 percent of the area is well-drained into the watershed of Omo River and metamorphic rocks of the Pre-Cambrian Basement Complex can be found underneath the area.

Why is the biodiversity threatened?

Major economic activities transpire in the transition area and have all seriously altered the forest structure, species composition, and habitat. These activities include: timber exploitation, hunting, fishing, the cultivation of arable crops (with plantations established from indigenous and exotic tree species), the establishment of monoculture stands of tree crops, clearance for cultivation and pathways within the biosphere reserve. Reasons behind the forest’s destruction are diverse with an ever increasing pressure on natural resources for fuel, fodder, food and shelter, due to a high population growth rate. No less than 35,775 logs of 65 tree species are annually removed from Omo. This logging affects species composition and could also lead to the loss of genetic diversity as well as environmental degradation.

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